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Synecdoche, New York 2008

A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play...

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Solar rating: 9


Imdb rating: 7.4

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3/10 Brain Aneurysms

Saw this after reading an article in the New York Times about how this movie put Benjamin Button to shame in regards to being 2008's profound meditation on life and death. My ass it did.

- Read the rest of my review at -
I have watched many movies, movies that vary across all genres and I do like art house but this is the worst movie I've ever seen.
Synecdoche New York is an example of pretentious film making taken to the extreme. It is a terrible simply morbid piece of dross that requires a superhuman level of patience and almost an interest in self mutilation as watching this movie is painful.
Im disappointed that Phillip Seymour Hoffmann took the role as well I realise he is into his theatre but its just such a weapon of mass distraction for the viewer.
The plot is nauseatingly complicated it is also confusing and very very depressing but not in a piece of art way, but in a I want to shoot myself in the head way.
I just been looking at the Dvd case before I wrote this review and I can't believe this is being marketed as a comedy, the funnest thing in this movie is the fact it is being marketed as a comedy.
It isn't funny it is (to quote Mark Kermode and to add a bit of me) like "walking through a lot of prac crit porridge whilst sticking rusty nails in your eyes on fire".
This movie is terrible and I think the amount of positive reviews it has got is actually shocking.
I want my 120 minutes back and the money I used to rent this movie, I might be currently a unemployed graduate but I rather spend two hours counting the number of spots of paint on my ceiling than watch this.
Synecdoche, New York is actually a play on Schenectady, New York. Synecdoche is a figure of speech, in which a specific term is used to describe something as a whole (when someone says "two countries are going to war", they're referring to those countries' militarys, not the literal countries or citizens as a whole). What's the synecdoche here? It's the representation of the human condition, through the experiences of one character. Said character is "Caden Cotard" (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a theater director who creates a play the size of a city and asks his actors to rehearse in it for decades. the details of this, or even of the plot itself are of little importance, what the film shows is not a story but an emotion. It's purpose is to create impressions and leaves it to the audience to see the big picture. It's an ambitious undertaking that at times is nearly crushed under it's own intricacies. If it could be compared to any other film in terms of "feel", I'd say it's closest relative would be "Eraserhead", both in it's surrealism (from the audience's point-of-view) and the expressionistic way in which it presents its ideas.

Writer/director Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) makes use of metaphor in a way no other modern american filmmaker is doing, he reaches down into the subconsciousness and pulls up images of human nitemares, fears, phobias and neuroses. By it's own nature, I suppose it's inevitably cynical, but that cynicism eventually brings the movie down a bit. Others might wind up being turned off by last half, as Cotard's play becomes more about his own life and his interaction with the actors of his play, he needs to bring in actors to portray the actors interacting with the actors who are interacting with the actors. Love this film or hate it, it's a work of singular brilliance that isn't seen very often today.
Like walking through mud. Their are plenty of moments that stand out, but it's just a convoluted mess. It's a film that spends two hours talking about profound things, but never offering anything new. Points for being ambitious though.
Some big ideas, and slightly depressing, but mesmerising. I'm glad Spike Jonze didn't direct this, and can't wait to see what Charlie brings us next time, hopefully something a little lighter.
reminiscent of David Lych's Inland Empire (which I just now realized how the title has a double meaning - doh!) this film explores how we as humans interact with each other and our expectations of not only ourselves but others (and how one's perceptions can change over time).
We compatmentalize and then complain when others do not stay in the pretty little boxes we create for them (and do we realize that we ourselves often escape from our own self inflicted boxes?).

The film blurs the time line and this can be irritating, and yet I suppose true to one's relationship with memories and how they too can change with time and effect how we deal with the here and now.

The first third of this film seems normal enough; a self absorbed playwrite with neurosis aplenty, is at a loss to understand why the "perfect" life he's created for himself - wife and child and a meaningful job in the profession he desires - is unraveling. He seems unequiped to repair his relationship and meekly watches it desolve.

From this point it's all a reflection on who, and why, under the guise of a play he is writing and directing - relationships flitter in and out as memories so often do - and time slips away.

There are many clever inventions at play here, from the very beginning where we see a man on the edges of the action watching - who later becomes the "actor" who portrays the writer. At the end of the film, as an 80 year old cleans his house (how's that for a metaphor?) and then awakens to see how the elaborate set he's created has become filled with grafetti and trash due to neglect, he then relinqushes control of the play (and his life) to others; and in the final scenes picks up an ear piece that tells him what to do and how to act as he comes upon a bit actor in his life who manages to give him compassion - as he rest his head on her shoulder the voice in his ear/head then say, simply, "die" - fade to white.

A film on this type of topic seems impossible to nail to perfection - it simply can't be done, just as defining humanity can't be done - but here Kaufman seems more on the mark and focused than some other efforts.
Certainly a film to discuss and a bit more accessable than the Lynch film (and a whole lot shorter!)
Too much
Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Heartbreaking and terrifying in every way. I loved it.
This is a movie that will probably be my most difficult to review. Charlie Kaufman has brought us some great stuff, but this is not up to par with his previous works. This movie is quite a downer as well, not helping the situation. The cast is stellar no doubt, but the oddities, the confusion and the endless issues end up making Synecdoche, New York a big mess that needs cleaning up. Just so everyone knows, this is a very slow moving movie, i wish it had some more excitement in it, but there is hardly any unfortunately. All of the actresses are great in this however. But Philip Seymour Hoffman steals the show. So why am I not recommending this? Kaufman has brought up too many issues, and he does not blend the fictitious and the reality very well so it is difficult to distinguish. The direction, while passionate and VERY ambitious (which i liked a lot), is also very sketchy and jumpy all the time. Everything is very sudden as if Kaufman needed to fit everything going on in his head into this two hours. This movie would have worked better if it focused on one big message, but its narrative is jumbled and unfocused. Maybe a different director would've worked instead of Kaufman himself. There are some devastating moments, and the performances are great, but everything is undermined by the one thing that needs to work in this type of movie, and that is the narrative. Its a mixed bag, but too many negatives for me personally. If your a fan of Kaufman, like i am, you are bound to be disappointed. If your just a moviegoer, i recommend you find something else that will be worth your time. Simply put, this movie is just too much. Thumbs down
Beautiful, brilliant, amazing, and so true to life. If you haven't seen this, then you are missing out. After watching this movie I felt like a different person, and that puts the great movies ahead of the good movies.
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